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Machu Picchu Packing List – What To Wear And Take

Alison Macallister

The tour is booked and you have your ticket. Now, what do you pack for a trip to Machu Picchu? I recommend putting some thought into your backpack contents.

You will likely be spending the entire day out and about. Good preparation will help you make the most of the experience.

In this article, I will provide a detailed Machu Picchu packing list of everything you should (and shouldn’t) take with you when visiting this famous Incan city. My recommendations cover all the basic necessities and I’ve also included items that will prepare you for ‘what if’ situations.

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What To Pack For Machu Picchu

Backpack Size Limitations For Machu Picchu Packing List

Before I get into the Machu Picchu packing list, there is one important thing you first need to know. You are limited as to what size backpack you can bring to the archeological site.

Authorities will not allow you to carry anything bigger than 20L. Your backpack should also not weigh more than 5kg (11lbs.). Anything bigger will need to be stored in the lockers outside (at an extra cost). From my personal experience, it is much better to pay a small fee to store your stuff at a hostel or hotel in Aguas Calientes.

Some people do get away with hauling around a bigger bag though. When I visited, no one really looked at my backpack (let alone weighed it). It comes down to luck and how strict the admissions officer is feeling on the day. Still, it’s better not to risk it!

machu picchu packing list

Machu Picchu Packing List

No matter what time of year you visit Machu Picchu, you should be prepared for all weather conditions. This means wearing layers that can be stripped and put on again as needed.

Pack sun-protective wear as the high altitude makes it much easier to burn. On the other hand, precipitation is possible all year round, so you should also bring a rain poncho or weatherproof jacket.

The following items should be in your day-pack for visiting Machu Picchu (in order of importance):

  • Passport
  • Entrance Ticket
  • K95 Mask (see latest on the coronavirus and Machu Picchu)
  • Sunscreen
  • Water bottle
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Waterproof jacket or rain poncho
  • Personal camera and cellphone
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Other Items to Consider For Your Machu Picchu Packing List

The following items are not strictly necessary, but may be practical for your Machu Picchu packing list. It depends on the specifics of your visit and personal preferences.

A headlamp

This is a must-have if you plan on walking up the stairs to Machu Picchu during the pre-dawn hours. If you have early admission, you will start walking around 5 am, which is roughly 30 minutes before sunrise.

At this time in the morning, it is still dark. The stone steps not only zig-zag but are also different sizes. A headlamp is extremely useful to prevent tripping. You could of course use your phone, but I’d suggest saving your battery life for photos.

Photo-ready Outfits

If you want the perfect souvenir photo, come prepared. A colourful poncho or Peruvian hat will make a great addition to your selfie in front of the Incan ruins. Don't forget to bring (or wear) these props on the day you visit Machu Picchu.

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Do You Need A Face Mask When Visiting Machu Picchu?

While writing this article, face masks were still required to enter Machu Picchu. The rules state you need a double mask or K-95 mask to enter the site.

In reality, no one was enforcing this rule while I was there (August 2022) and plenty of people were walking around without any face masks at the tail-end of the pandemic.

Nonetheless, I’d recommend erring on the side of caution and having one with you during your trek. Rules around COVID-19 protocols on the Inca trail are changing as fast as they are put in place.

Can I Take Food To Machu Picchu?

Strictly speaking where your Machu Picchu packing list is concerned, food is not allowed on the site. However, no one really checked and I was grateful to have some snacks for when I left the gates.

Please Note: Don't eat inside the ruins. The Peruvian government takes great pains to repair and maintain the site annually, so you may just be fined or thrown out!

You can buy food near the entrance. Be prepared to pay much higher prices than anywhere else. You also could pack a picnic lunch and leave it outside while you tour the ruins.

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Items Not Allowed In Machu Picchu

Other than large backpacks, there are a couple of other items that you will not be able to include in your Machu Picchu packing list.

Personal cameras are allowed but professional equipment will require a permit, including camera tripods. It's not super clear what constitutes a professional camera though. An excessive amount of lenses may likely catch the guard's attention. If this happens, you may have to leave your camera outside or be asked to pay the permit fee (which costs over $300!).

Walking sticks are also not allowed inside Machu Picchu, but this applies mostly to trekking poles. If you have a disability, you may bring your stick so long as it does not have a metal tip. It seems like a strange restriction but is to protect the ruins from damage.

Here’s a list of other prohibited items for your Machu Picchu packing list:

  • Alcohol or drugs
  • Selfie sticks
  • Musical instruments
  • Speakers
  • Promotional material or clothing (not sure how they monitor this)
  • Weapons
  • Baby carriages
  • Food and beverages

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Alison Macallister

With a degree in Nature Conservation and experience working with wildlife including the Big 5, Alison works as a guide for a 5-star reserve. She enjoys sharing her passion for all things nature-related. She enjoys hiking, horseriding, 4x4 driving and kayaking.

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